DIY toiletries

20151213: [ sawall > household ] { recipes }

While I traveled long term in Asia, it became impossible to reliably find many of the liquid cleaners that I was familiar with. Sure, if we went to regions popular with backpackers we could re-up, but many of our destinations were off the beaten path.

This meant learning to make our own toiletries. The basic approach was to bring lightweight items that offer a lot of bang for the buck, like essential oils, then combine them with ingredients that are easy to find almost anywhere, like water and baking soda.


Mix about 1/4 tbsp baking soda into 1 tbsp coconut oil. Apply an eraser head worth under each armpit after showering. This works great but be careful not to use too much because the abrasion from the baking soda can become irritating. A drop or two of essential oil in a scent you enjoy can also be added to the mix - but go easy on that too.


This is a great-tasting mouthwash that combines several oral protective ingredients. In a 1 cup container mix:

  • 2 tsp vodka
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp xylitol (which you can find in packets in a lot of places)
  • 8 drops tea tree oil
  • 8 drops peppermint oil
  • water to fill the container

wool spritz

I wear a lot of merino wool, and the one downside is that moths can go after it. This spritz should be applied to wool storage areas every week or two to keep moths away. It also makes a nice bathroom fragrance. In a spritzer bottle that holds 3 tsp:

  1. Shake 4 drops of lavender oil in 1 tsp of witch hazel or vodka for 30 seconds.
  2. Add 2 tsp of water and shake for another minute or two.

disinfectant spritz

OTC disinfectants can be pretty strange in some countries. My typical approach was to put a few drops of tea tree into a small spritzer and then fill it with vodka. I still keep this on me at almost all times for first aid.